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“ The Colleges have now become national institutions."
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS,
EXTERNAL regulation and control have from an early period influenced the Universities and Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge.
University degrees, before the Reformation, obtained a European authority through the papal sanction of the corporations which conferred such certificates of academical progress.
Papal bulls, Royal charters, and occasionally Acts of Parliament, created and modified privileges in our ancient collegiate institutions; and when the followers of Wycliffe became numerous in the seats of learning, ecclesiastical policy induced the foundation of richlyendowed Roman Catholic Colleges to attract the youthful students of the poorer classes of society, and to provide for them a long continued academical residence.
At the commencement of the fifteenth century, visitations, under archiepiscopal authority, took place both at Oxford and Cambridge, for the suppression of Lollardism in their colleges and halls. A happier day dawned shortly afterwards with the revival of classical learning, but the principles of religious toleration were but little known even in the time of Cardinal Wolsey. That great statesman, after obtaining a papal bull for the suppression of twenty-two monasteries, founded Cardinal College, Oxford, on their endowments, with an excellent staff of professors, and then persecuted some of these eminent teachers for their attachment to Lutheranism.
The papal supremacy was renounced at Oxford and Cambridge in 1534, and in the following year, visitations of both Universities, and of all their Colleges and Halls, took place by royal authority; papal bulls and other academical muniments were surrendered to the King, and the bulls were not returned.
Lord Thomas Cromwell, the Secretary of State in ecclesiastical affairs, was entrusted by King Henry VIII. with the power of declaring any injunctions which might appear to him necessary and expedient for the Universities and Colleges both of Oxford and Cambridge; and all statutes, either of the Universities or of the Colleges, were pronounced to be void which opposed his injunctions.
College estates were surveyed and valued by Royal Commissioners; some of the old scholastic books, which had been carefully studied in an earlier age, were torn to pieces and scattered to the winds ; liberty to read the Bible in private studies was freely given, and additional lectures in Greek and Latin were enjoined to be established.
Parliament assisted King Henry VIII. in his collegiate changes, by passing an Act* in 1545 for the dissolution of colleges at the King's pleasure. His Majesty thus obtained the privilege of appointing Commissioners, who might, during his lifetime, enter on the property of any of the colleges, whereby the college property so entered became vested in the
* 37 Hen. VIII. c. 4., printed at length in the folio edition of the public records.
possession of the King and of his heirs and successors for ever, just as if the college had been particularly named in the Act, and had been expressly adjudged to the Crown.
Cardinal College, Oxford, had previously fallen into the hands of the royal despot, and had been refounded as a cathedral under the title of King Henry the VIII's College. On being a second time dissolved, two minor institutions, Canterbury College and Peckwater Inn, were added to its endowments, and the united institution was formed into a cathedral and college, under the well-known title of Christ Church.
At Cambridge, the Act of 1545 led to the dissolution of three of the older halls, King's Hall, Michael House, and Phiswick Hostel : these three institutions were united into one, which, on that account, the King named Trinity College. It still remains in vigour, a magnificent and valuable monument of the arbitrary power and love of learning which characterised the sixteenth century.
Royal Commissioners under King Edward VI., Legatine Commissioners under Cardinal Pole in the reign of Queen Mary, and Royal Commissioners, again, under Queen Elizabeth, visited both Universities and their colleges and halls, issued successive ordinances and injunctions, changed, in each reign, the system of religious worship in the college chapels, superseded local statutes, and removed and reinstated college officers.
After the visitations of the Commissioners in the reign of Elizabeth, the Chancellors of the respective Universities, with the Archbishop of Canterbury,